Many service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq will be taking advantage of their G.I. benefits and returning to school. Diane Furtek, registrar and director of the Veterans' Resource Centers at American International College in Springfield, said it is important that institutions of higher education improve its transitional services, and instructors and administrators formulate better re-entry programs for service members as they seek a college education.
In a recent article published in College and University Magazine, Furtek said a cohesive transition plan should connect the education experiences of service members and veterans and support their persistence and success in college. "The plan might include improving the campus climate, ensuring support for service members with disabilities, and establishing specific points of contact to mitigate culture shock."
One strategy, according to Furtek, is to develop a transition course that would address the personal and situational barriers that exist. "A transition course provides the opportunity for service members to develop the skills required for success in the classroom, including meeting academic responsibilities and coping with the transition from military to college life," she said.
However Furtek said curriculum and administrative leaders have many challenges to overcome.
"While today's economic climate is making it difficult for many institutions to develop and support new programs for service members, these leaders must develop solutions and provide new opportunities for students," she said.
Furtek said, "With service members returning to civilian life and to college campuses, the relevance to a changing education environment is enormous both for this population and for today's higher education institution."